THIS ARTICLE IS COMMENTARY AND PUBLISHED IN OUR EDITORIAL SECTION.
Weekly YouTube show dives into various issues in the Page Valley, while also reporting the Week in Review and checking out the Weekend Ahead
By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Jan. 31 — To kick off Black History Month, this week “Page Valley Livin'” visits with Audrey Tutt Smith and takes a tour of the Andrew Jackson School Museum. Smith was a student at the former all-black school until 1957, when she was forced to travel to Manassas to complete her high school diploma her senior year.
“On Jan. 12, 1926, the Andrew Jackson School replaced School No. 5 that sat adjacent to St. John’s Church and opened its doors to black students in grades 1 through 7,” reads the historical marker in front of the building, which was dedicated on Aug. 13, 2022. “The school board added one grade each year until they reached the 11th grade — where they stopped. Up to 1959, black students had to travel outside the Page Valley in order to complete their high school diploma.”
Smith recalls her years at the all-black school, and notes that she would later work her way up to being assistant superintendent of schools in Page County “in spite of” her situation. She also talks about the school’s true namesake — and it’s not who you might think.
The longtime educator explains the various exhibits in the one-room museum, which contains an original chalkboard and the original ceiling and floorboards from the Andrew Jackson School. Exhibits highlight such things as former teachers (showing that only one lived in Luray, while other hailed from North Carolina, West Virginia, D.C. and all across Virginia.) Other items highlight former students through everything from old photographs to an original roll sheet from 1926.
The interview also promotes the upcoming first annual celebration of Black History Month in the Page Valley planned for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24 at The West Luray Recreation Center, known as “The Rec.” The event is being hosted by the Historic Andrew Jackson School Museum Committee, and the 2024 theme is “African Americans and the Arts” spanning the many impacts Black Americans have had on visual arts, music, cultural movements and more. This is a culmination of events that students, churches and The Rec Center have been working on all month. There will be a play, announcement of the essay contest winners, and more.
As always, we’ll look back at “the week that was” in the Page Valley with a review of news headlines and sports, and we’ll tell you about some upcoming events to look out for this weekend.
(Page Valley Livin’ ~ Episode 11 was recorded on Tuesday, Jan. 30 and first aired Wednesday, Jan. 31).
Coming up on Page Valley Livin’… we’re working to secure an interview with Luray High School boys basketball coach Matt Huff prior to the next rivalry matchup with Page County in the regular season finale on Feb. 9; and a look into the new role that Taylor Alger is playing to coordinate non-profit efforts in the community.
We’re also open to ideas…if you have one for an upcoming show — an interesting person you know with an interesting story — send us an email or provide a comment below.
The aim and purpose of these videos is to provide more information about more things that make up the wonderful place we call the Page Valley of Virginia. Serious issues will be handled seriously, while lighter issues may offer more opportunity to have some fun. There is no theme or agenda other than promoting the Page Valley, and trying to better inform the people who both live here and those who love to visit.
If you have suggestions for future shows or other recommendations, comment below…or comment on our videos on YouTube. If you like even a portion of what you see, please don’t forget to hit “Like” and Share the video, and smash that “Subscribe” button on our YouTube channel.
A special “Thank You” to our Page Valley Livin’ sponsor, Luray Caverns.
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